Kitchen Masochist

Today’s dVerse challenge is to write a confessional verse.

the arm that I’ve kept iced and braced
through the December rush of charcuterie platters,
-I’ll get it seen to when the catering is done-
aches like flames on cast iron
turns butters into boils
and I chop on, these onions
won’t dice themselves
tomorrow a cheesecake, orange compote, and ginger crust
salmon and steak for fourteen,
somebody else’s party I’ll ensure
when I’m in early, a prep list
a mise en place of musts
I’m trying so hard to learn
-I’ll do them, don’t worry-
to delegate and mentor and teach
when I’m making it up as I go
I do not know if the satisfaction
of making things happen
is nature or nurture
generous or needy

Here’s tonight’s appetizers. I’m calling it Ozymandias.

18 thoughts on “Kitchen Masochist

  1. A confession of the dogged stalwart who doesn’t want to lose their job – I know it well, Nora, but not in a kitchen. I love the voice in this poem, the stream of consciousness and the ‘kitchen language’, especially ‘aches like flames on cast iron / turns butters into boils’ and ‘a mise en place of musts’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love the physicality of my job, and the deadlines, and the intensity. I also think that it is untenable and toxic, and I’ve never known how to mend the toxicity without leeching out the marrow of why so many of us do it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well Nora just keep dancing and they will find you fascinating, or maybe just quirky – but there is a big market for quirky! But just keep the food coming and keep dancing… they can’t hit a miving target!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It can be, and it can also be a slippery slope into passive aggressive control. The best-run kitchens are beautifully assertive without being passive or aggressive, and it’s a skill I’m continually trying to hone.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “aches like flames on cast iron/turns butters into boils”: Such a good word play in this one. Your voice is refreshing and the kitchen lingo makes this scenario and experience quite evocative. A very interesting write — I studied food production (kitchen) for a semester but couldn’t continue with the kind of toxic environ I found there.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My son is a chef, so I can relate to the stress. But your situation can happen to anyone working under pressure. Sometimes we know it or just wing it or just hope we will survive somehow. I enjoyed this one Nora.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Such gorgeous wordplay in this confessional poem, “aches like flames on cast iron/turns butters into boils,” I am well aware of the struggle, the long hours and hectic schedule when it comes to this job. I applaud you for your strength and for this beautiful poem! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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